For Christmas, a dear friend and his wife (hello A and B) invited us to attend a Beer Brunch at a local establishment known as DuClaw.
Drinking lots of beer is not something I would have thought I’d be doing on a Sunday morning, and not because I’m religious or morally a prig, but I don’t usually “eat” and “drink” at the same time. Generally, I find that the change in the taste of the beverage paired with the food just isn’t appealing anymore. BUT – what ho! – this is where the universe takes something I “thought” I knew and slaps me upside the head with it. This is where I’m reminded to try new things and be open to new ideas.
It was delicious!
We started off with Sweet Potato Pancakes, with a Vanilla Almond Syrup topped with Fresh Home made Cream paired with a Cask Conditioned Vanilla Cinnamon Sawtooth Belgian Wit.
Now bear with me, please. Hubby was taking photos next to me and he WAS sober for this shot – but I can’t attest to the rest. This was, I think, my favorite and I wish now that I’d eaten the whole thing.
After a brief introduction by the owner of DuClaw, we were treated to a discussion by the head brew master on aspects of each beer, how it was created or brewed and why they chose it to pair with each dish. I have to say I learned quite a bit about spicing and how beer is created, is filtered, the types, hops… you name it.
Anyway, the first course was scarfed down by all four of us so quickly, that what you see in the photo was literally all that was left of our four plates. (I eat fairly slowly, I’m told) The cream was perfect and went well with the pancake that had a hint of nutmeg in it and while I was not a huge fan of the beer without the food, this was one of those rare times that the drink was better with the food. Brewed with orange peel and coriander, it was a nice counterbalance to the pancake.
Our second course was Spiced Pumpkin Waffles topped with a Cinnamon Cream paired with Cask Conditioned Double Spiced 31 Munich Dunkel.
The beer was great. The cream was great. The waffles were overdone and didn’t have much of a spice flavor, but weren’t something you’d feed to the dog, either. While all the components were great, it was kind of “here are three options, pick two” scenario. Cream and waffle? Yes. Beer and waffle? Yes. Beer and Cream? Pushing it, but yes. Beer, cream and waffle? Not so much.
Presented next was Beer Marinated Steak and Eggs paired with Devil’s Milk Barleywine. This was A’s favorite beer and it was pretty good. It’s also rather potent….
Everyone raved over the steak; let’s just say that right away. The chef later came out and told us that he had marinated the meat in the Devil’s Milk for a day and a half, along with some brown sugar and garlic. Sadly, I had to pass on this one because I was pretty certain it had some onion in that marinade as well. The eggs were great and since Hubby doesn’t like eggs, we just traded proteins. The beer itself had so many flavors and a smoky undertone that it was the perfect pairing for meat.
Our least favorite and definitely the least appealing, was the Banana Crepes with a Chocolate Drizzle paired with 13 Degrees Hefeweizen.
Was I right or was I right? Tell me that looks somehow appealing to you…. and I’ll disagree. Not much of a punishment there, eh? Well the real punishment was this pairing. Hubby likens Hefeweizen to drinking something that tastes like fresh-cut grass, and while I can’t quite get to that, it’s not something that I really liked either. It had a flavor that centered itself more to the front of my mouth and specifically on the tip and front sides of my tongue. Bitter, but light, not dark and smokey. Bananas raw are tolerable, but a cooked banana in warm chocolate (we all KNOW that chocolate is supposed to be COLD only by command of the High priestess Sharon) was not something even I could tolerate. I felt bad about giving back a plate of food that had only one bite out of it, but multiply that by the four of us and I was wishing there was some way to have given it to someone who liked it.
By now, we are all roasty-toasty with each other and having great conversation and a fantastic time. Even Hubby was getting very verbal; such is his want when he’s had a few. And have a few he did, since I was the DD and he had his and mostly mine and sometimes a third or even fourth to drink if one of us didn’t like ours.
Another smash hit was the Beer Biscuits and Maple Sausage Gravy paired with Euphoria’s Toffee Nut Brown Ale.
It was a huge biscuit that was sweet and slightly dense and the sausage gravy was very good. I’m used to a slightly thicker gravy, but the flavor was perfect. The beer though, that was just about my favorite and thankfully it’s B’s favorite as well, since the second one she ordered ended up being accidentally dumped down A’s back. Even being drenched in B’s favorite beer, didn’t dampen his mood though. At this point, we were all a bit happy. :0)
When I took my first sip, I turned to Hubby and said, “This tastes a lot like the coffee I had yesterday with the toasted almond and caramel flavorings.” The first thing about this statement that was odd was that I don’t put flavor in my coffee, generally, because I love it dark and bitter. The second thing was that just after I uttered this sentence, the brew master got up and announced that this beer was made by pouring a toffee, nut coffee into the mix. Score one for my palate!!!
Our last course was Cherry Strata paired with Cherry Black Jack Stout. This stout was specifically brewed with a heavy cherry favor to stand up to this pairing, but I’m not sure it hit the mark.
It was a beautiful dish, with pecans and cherries and a bread pudding type of consistency, but it wasn’t something that you could eat a whole serving of. At least no one at our table could. And Hubby ended up with all 4 stouts on this one, so he was grinning ear to ear once he’d finished those.
After a final Q and A, we all said our thanks and goodbyes and tried to head over to the ice rink to watch a friend’s sons’ hockey game. On our way, I missed the turn for the rink and headed down a street to flip around and head back the other way. It ended up that I had turned down a road that had townhouses and a slight divider between their parking area and the main road, so making a circle wasn’t very difficult at all. I drove to the second exit, made the left and drove through the parking lot and then stopped to check for traffic down the main road I had just driven.
There, in the middle of the road, was a Christmas tree. I don’t know how it got there, since we didn’t see it at all when we pulled in, but it’s not like I could have driven around it without noticing because it was smack in the middle of the road, sunlight glinting off some leftover tinsel. Don’t ask me why I felt this meant something, but I did. I felt thankful that we had people in our lives that would think to share new experiences with us and cared enough to want to be with us. Does a body good to think of.